Forklift operator takes plea in assault case
BULLHEAD CITY – A man who used a large forklift to deliberately maim a co-worker in Mohave Valley has entered a plea agreement that will send him to the Arizona Department of Corrections. An attempted first-degree murder charge is dismissed in exchange for the conviction of Erwin Colato,37, for aggravated assault.
Deputy Mohave County Attorney Kenneth Sheffield said Colato argued with the victim before striking with his fists and knocking him unconscious inside a travel trailer in the 500 block of A street on July 21, 2022. Sheffield said Colato dragged the man by the legs out of the trailer and into a garage where he placed him on plywood on the floor.
Sheffield said Colato then climbed aboard a 32,000-pound industrial skyjack that he drove toward the man, dropping down the heavy fork apparatus that crushed the victim resulting in multiple fractures.
Defense attorney Paul Amann said both men were drinking heavily before the argument. Sheffield said Colato drove away, but drew suspicion by strange behavior observed by a deputy following the heavy equipment assault.
“He told the deputy that he had done something bad that he was ashamed of,” Sheffield said. He said Colato was able to direct the deputy to the garage where the violence ended.
The victim who was transported to a hospital survived his injuries.
The plea deal requires Judge Billy Sipe to impose a 5- to 7.5-year prison term at an April 14 sentencing hearing. That’s considerably better than the 5- to 15-year prison term that was in play when a previous plea proposal was detailed during a settlement conference last November.